Friday, September 17, 2010

BLACK SEA TRIP: PART 16, The Oracle of Delphi

ORACLE -noun
1. an utterance, often ambiguous or obscure, given by a priest or priestess at a shrine as the response of a god to an inquiry, or the agent giving such a response.
2. A shrine or place at which such utterances are given: the oracle of Apollo at Delphi.
3. a divine communication or revelation.
4. a person who delivers authoritative, wise, or highly regarded and influential pronouncements.

After gorging ourselves on Greek pastries (See Part 15 post), we finally made our way to Delphi. I don't know if it was the Nirvana created by the food in our satisfied tummies or just the day, but Delphi seemed to have a mysterious, other-worldly aura about it. It is located far away from any large city in the middle of a Grecian Nowhere at the base of Mt. Parnassus.

Friendly words welcomed us to our destination:

Man-made walls try (and fail) to reflect the glorious structures created by the gods:

There was something familiar about this stone wall and arch:

On closer inspection . . .

I realized I had seen something similar in a drawing Andrew did his senior year in high school:

Greeks believed that Delphi was the literal center of the universe and that this very stone was the navel of the earth:
(It's a major "out-y," don't you think?)

Of course, one of the best-preserved buildings is the Treasury:

Note the ugly, malformed rock on the left of this photo (no, NOT the woman in the center):

THIS is the Rock of Sybil--the woman who could foretell the future--from which she delivered her prophecies:
("You will eat a fine meal at the end of the day...You will gain five pounds on this trip...You will bore all your family and friends with your photos...")

Columns of the Temple of Apollo, 4th century B.C. :
It was at his temple that Apollo spoke through his oracle or Sybil. Chosen from among the local peasant women, she had to be an older woman who had lived a blameless life. She would sit on a seat over an opening in the floor of this temple and inhale the fumes arising from below (thought to be the decomposing body of Apollo's slain rival Python). High on the gases, she would fall into a trance and prophesy, which was really babbling, deranged raving. The local priests would "translate" her words into prophetic poetry. The oracle was taken very seriously and consulted before all major undertakings. Not a bad system, eh? It actually sounds a bit like our parenting style. I'll let you guess who is the oracle and who is the interpreter.
The Christian emperor Theodosius destroyed this temple in 390 A.D. to silence the oracle. Some men will do anything to get a woman to be quiet.

The amphitheater, built up the mountain from Apollo's Temple and able to seat 5,000 spectators:

The stadium, site of the Pythian Games, forerunner of the modern Olympics:

Just below all the main ruins of Delphi is this magnificent structure, the Tholos of Delphi, believed to be the sanctuary of Athena. Perhaps before approaching the oracle, visitors first stopped here to offer a sacrifice to Athena:

There were other wonderful sights at Delphi. Take this modern Greek toga, for example:

We did love the flora of the area, which reminded us somewhat of home. Here, a loaded mulberry tree:
...which Bob enjoyed perhaps a little too much:

Wonderful ancient trees:

. . . and beautiful poppies, not orange like ours in California, but crimson red:

Delphi has a spectacular Archaeological Museum that is full of treasures from excavations:
Sphinx of Naxos

The Charioteer

"The Philosopher of Delphi," circa 270 BC

Whew. All that heavy Greek history and mythology made us HUNGRY. Should we head here?


OH MY GOODNESS. GREEK DINING AT ITS FINEST:Greek salad with feta, Greek olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, olive oil, and spices

Cheese pie

Lamb chops

Of course, there were cats here too. We really grew to love that cats all over the place.
One of our souvenirs, purchased in a small town near Delphi:

Bob and Makis, our awesome, friendly, knowledgeable, palate-pleasing guide:



  1. Looks like Greece caught Uncle Bob red handed. :)

  2. Really? You only gained 5 lbs? I'm gaining 5 lbs each and every time I look at the food in your posts!

  3. I hate for these all to end. It's been so enjoyable to read both yours and Bob's blogs. I also love the little comments underneath--thanks for such an enjoyable arm-chair trip to Greece and environs.

  4. What a very neat place. Now I am off to find a salad similar for my lunch. Although I am sure it won't be as good.